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Mark Of An Angel, The (L'Empreinte De L'Ange) (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/05/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Superbly directed, powerfully acted and unbearably suspenseful French drama that exerts a vice-like emotional grip throughout.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on a true story, Mark of an Angel stars Catherine Frot as Elsa Valentin, a divorced mother on the brink of a custody battle for her 10-year-old son Thomas (Arthur Vaughan-Whitehead). When she glimpses a young girl called Lola (Heloise Cunin) at a children's party, she becomes convinced that she's the daughter she lost in a hospital fire seven years ago, something she has clearly never fully recovered from.

Elsa subsequently engineers a meeting with Lola's mother, Claire (Sandrine Bonnaire) and slowly insinuates herself into their lives, her conviction growing stronger with every encounter. As Elsa's behaviour becomes more and more obsessive, she begins to neglect her job and family, while Claire gradually starts to suspect that something's not right.

The Good
Catherine Frot is terrific as Elsa; her blank-faced expression ensures that you're never quite sure of her emotional and mental state, which leads to some extraordinarily tense moments, such as a heart-stopping sequence on an ice rink. She's equally matched by Sandrine Bonnaire, who radiates warmth and likeability as Claire and is unwilling to believe that her son's new friend's mother might be a few coupons short of a toaster.

The script is excellent, exploring powerfully emotional themes such as grief, obsession, mental illness, voyeurism and the nature of maternal love. It's also impressively shot, with striking images throughout, particularly during a nail-biting ballet scene, where Claire spies Elsa watching Lola from the wings, alternately bathed in demonic red or eerie green light.

The Great
Director Safy Nebbou orchestrates some incredibly suspenseful scenes – this is the sort of film where you're suddenly aware that you haven't taken a breath for about five minutes. That said, it is a little bit annoying when the film's most nerve-wracking moment turns out to be a dream sequence.

Worth seeing?
Mark of an Angel is an extremely suspenseful, emotionally devastating drama with a strong script and terrific performances from Frot and Bonnaire. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Mark Of An Angel, The (L'Empreinte De L'Ange) (12A)
Mark Of An Angel, The (L'Empreinte De L'Ange) has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 16/07/2018 15:25

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